in part 1 I began to tell the story of the springs …

When I first became inspired about the imagery of the springs, the language contributed a definite gravity to the direction of my sermons and the content of my congregation’s prayers. We began to see miraculous healings and answers to prayer that convinced us that there was something deep to this idea. 

I shared these developments with my regional pastor group and also my denominational pastors gathering. I was met at both places with a swift warning. “Make sure that your people know that the power for healing is with God and not with the water.”   This caused me to be very hesitant as I was continuously exhorted by other pastors and leaders not to “take it too far.”

 My wife would object to their line of reasoning by asking rhetorically “ If they have a headache and take an aspirin, do they think that the power is with God or the aspirin?” 

It was very difficult to navigate my deep convictions, on one hand, that the springs were a gift from the Creator that had for centuries been places of healing and restoration, and on the other hand, to avoid the accusation of ‘new age’ or of trading my focus on the creator to a focus on the creation (an accusation I picked up was loosely based on Romans 1:22-25). 

 One of my great realizations on this subject came in my final year in Saratoga Springs in the form of a prayer – a prayer God did not answer and now I understand why. 
Our congregation had moved into a new facility and as we continued to experience renewal with signs and wonders, I would privately and publicly pray that God would bring up a spring in our new parking lot.  My thought was that people would come to drink the water and find the healing that God brings – this would attracted media attention and initiate a revival.  – Not a bad idea or motive !! 

 I realize now that my error was twofold. 

Firstly, based on my charismatic training in ‘spiritual warfare’ I was asking God to do a new thing based on Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” without fully acknowledging and participating in that which God had already done.  I was not seeking God in or taking the congregation to the ten springs that were already provided. I just wanted a new one to pop up where we were without going to where they already were. I had it sort of backward. I needed to honor what God had already done in history – not just what I wanted God to do now. 

Secondly, when telling my friend and mentor Randy Woodley about the metaphor of the springs and the miraculous healings that God had worked among us, he questioned me concerning the connecting of the spiritual to the physical, “ Did you ever take people to the springs, pray over them, and have them drink the water or soak in the water?”  
 I said that I had not. 
He asked me why. 
I simply replied, “I did not know to back then”.

Because of the external pressure to not “go too far”, I was using the springs as a metaphor. I was borrowing the imagery for my congregation’s use in spirituality. I had spiritualized a physical, actual gift in order to communicate a spiritual gift. I thought that the springs were neat imagery that got people thinking about how God has worked historically in order to transfer that into a spiritual expectation of God working now.
 Now, I believe that they are actually God at work. God works through the minerals and gasses of natural springs. That is not different than our prayers – they both participate with our prayer and may be the answer to our prayer. 

People who read this blog know that I do not believe in the super-natural. I only believe in the natural – the miraculous working of God. God’s work is the most natural thing in the world. The springs are a gift – a grace – from God. They are not different than God’s work – they are a part of God’s work.